Michael sat with a cup of green tea, watching May while she dusted most of the bookstore’s philosophy section.
     “Who gathers the most dust?” he asked her, grinning.  “Heidegger?  John Stuart Mill?  Derrida?”
     “It’s pretty evenly distributed,” she told him.
     “That’s too bad,” said Michael, taking another sip of tea, “I was sort of hoping old Heidegger would be the front-runner, dust-wise!”
     “A rolling philosopher gathers no dust,” he assured her.
     “What on earth do you mean?” May asked him.
     “Oh nothing, really. I’m just talking silly to justify my sitting here and gazing at you.”
     May put down the feather duster and gave him a kiss on the forehead. 
     “Don’t you have anything more pressing to do?”
     “I do, but I’m putting it off for as long as possible.  I sort of half-promised a painter I know that I’d go see his work.  A guy named Homer Rubik.”
     “That’s an odd name,” said May, moving from the philosophy section to the history section.
     “Well, he’s an odd guy,” said Michael, “and his name suits him nicely.  ‘Homer’ may be a bit lofty for him, but “Rubik’ is perfect—like the infamous cube, he’s shifty, lots of sides, lots of angles, ultimately unknowable, and, in the end, probably pointless.”
     “Why do you care about him then?”
     “I don’t, really.  But the stuff he makes is extraordinary—in a sort of unhealthy, unwholesome way.”
     “What’s it like?”
     “Very strange.  It’s like Old Master painting, but small—on scrap pieces of paper.  He paints on anything—envelopes, butcher paper, newspapers, pages torn from magazines, flattened-out cardboard boxes….  He’s like a back-alley Raphael or Caravaggio!”
     “So you’re going to visit his studio?”
     “Well, he doesn’t really have a studio. The guy is a short-order cook in a diner.  I’m told he lives in a two room apartment and apparently paints in his kitchen.”
     “Maybe he’s a genius!”
     “Yeh maybe.”
     “But probably not?”
     “No, probably not.”
     “And now you’ll see for yourself.”
     “Yeh.  Lucky me.
     It took  Michael some time, but he finally found what he took to be Homer’s little flat—high atop the rusty fire-escape at the back of a five-story building on Stafford Street, south of Trinity Bellwoods Park.  He was standing at the foot of the stairs when he suddenly spied Bliss Carmen, leaning over the railing outside Homer’s door.  Fish was with her, of course, and took this opportunity to undertake a feat of aerial bladder evacuation, cocking his left back leg against one of the steel railings of the fire escape and pissing a yellow rain that fell perilously close to Michael.
     “Missed you!!” cried Bliss happily.
     “Yeh,” said Michael.  “The happy intervention of a sudden breeze from the west.”
     “C’mon up!” boomed Bliss.
     Michael climbed the fire escape, feeling more certain with every step that this whole visit was a mistake.
     Bliss led him into the first of Homer’s dank rooms. It seemed to be some kind of sitting room, though there really wasn’t anyplace to sit.  There was a greasy mattress on the floor.
     “That’s where we sleep,” Bliss announced.  “This is our boudoir.”
     Michael suppressed a shudder.  A shudder not so much engendered by the ad hoc bed as by the whole idea of sleeping with Bliss.  Geez, thought Michael to himself, did any woman ever bear such an inappropriate name!
     He heard Homer stirring in the second room.
     “Homer,” boomed Bliss, “get out here! My big Writer Friend is here!”
     “You mean Zorba?” muttered Homer.
     Michael felt like strangling them both.
     “Yeh, he might write something about your work!”
     “Listen, I never said I…” Michael began when Bliss shushed him. 
     “Don’t be like that,” she told him in a loud whisper. “Homer needs encouragement.”
     Homer finally appeared in the doorway, naked to the waste, his jeans stiff with what Michael supposed might equally be dried oil paint or congealed egg.
     “You come to see my stuff?”
    “Yes,” Michael, told him.  “You have some things here?”
     “I’ve been doing stuff,” said Homer.
     “Home’s very prolific!” boomed Bliss. “He always has work around!”
     “Okay,” said Michael.  “Let’s look through some things.”
     Home returned to the second room—the kitchen he used to paint in—and beckoned Michael to follow.
     “I would have thought you’d have had enough of kitchens!” said Michael, trying for a preliminary pleasantry.
     “What?” said Homer.
     “Michael means that you just seem to go from one kitchen to another!” she said heartily.  “That’s what you meant, wasn’t it, Michael?”
     Michael smiled weakly.
     “Fish, stop that!!” yelled Bliss suddenly.  Fish had lifted his leg and peed copiously on a pile of ink drawings.  The ink had now begun to run and was pooling on the floor.
     “Ha!” laughed Bliss, “a new medium!”
     Homer gave Fish a kick.
     “Andy Warhol did a series of piss paintings once,” said Michael.  “They were on metal.  He called them his ‘Oxidation paintings’ because the urine changed into beautiful colours when it dried on the metal backing!”
     “Who?” asked Homer.
     “Andy Warhol,” said Bliss, speaking loudly and distinctly to him as if she were speaking to someone with hearing problems.
     “So what?” said Homer.
     Michael couldn’t think of a good answer.